William Shakespeare

Literary Analysis of Othello by William Shakespeare



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In William Shakespeare drama “Othello” there are many themes throughout. The biggest theme that I see over and over again would be appearance vs. reality. Throughout the whole drama Iago is deceptive and manipulative, even though he appears to be thoughtful. Other themes in “Othello” are; racism or racial distrust, stereotypes, jealousy, misrepresentation, and storms. The storms have a bigger meaning; they represent the end of peace, or the beginning of trouble.

I would have to say that the dialogue in “Othello” could be very realistic. It is written in older English that is sometimes difficult for me to understand at times, but it is definitely realistic. Everyone knows about that one person that is two-faced and deceptive. The play is a tragedy. Iago causes it all. He turns everyone against anyone he doesn't like and anyone he wants to get rid of. Othello and Desdemona marry each other and want to live a life with each other, even with their differences in race, and age. Iago is jealous of Othello and wants to be with her. He claims that Desdemona is unfaithful to Othello, which is a lie. This was the first time he started turning against Othello, which ultimately breaks up Othello and Desdemona, and ends up in her death.

Antagonist & setting: The antagonist in “Othello” is obviously Iago, who conspires against everyone for personal gain. He is even called “devil”. He also says that everything is not always what it seems, or something around that, which foreshadows that he may be untruthful later on in the play. The protagonist would be Othello. The setting of “Othello” takes place in Venice and in Cyprus. The setting would be during the war between Venice and Italy.

Symbolism: The handkerchief in the play symbolizes his love for her. She can bring it anywhere, so it kind of serves as a constant reminder. It also symbolizes virginity and fidelity to Othello. The handkerchief is used as "proof" of an affair between Desdemona and Cassio. Although we all know that Iago planted it in Cassio's room to "prove" that they slept together, when in fact they didn't.


Another symbol would be the song "The Willow" that was like a foreshadowing element. It showed that there would be a woman who would be betrayed by her lover, which happens to Desdemona herself.

In the final scene Iago's true intentions are revealed when they find a letter that explains everything that has happened and Iago confesses.

More about this author: Kaya Brinkman

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